The gray afternoon

This afternoon, I took my son, his girlfriend and my daughter to the beach.

The tide was low and finally, I knew where to find tide pools.  When in doubt, ask another mom who has lived in the area for years.


Yesterday, when I didn’t have time to stay, the sky was mostly clear.  Tonight, the marine layer moved in, obscuring the sunset.  But it was still beautiful.  So many people were out and about on the sand and sea.



And then these egrets appeared and seemed to dance.  (One was chasing another, I think.)


I left with a pocket full of white rocks and a few shells and sand.  Always, always, sand everywhere, in our pockets and pant cuffs and between our toes when we leave the beach.

Reading, watching, listening, driving

What I’m reading:

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

I checked this book out from the library after reading Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett.  Lucy and Ann were friends as they began their writing careers.

I also started reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home, but I got distracted and put it aside.

Next up:  I’m thinking of reading Unbroken in preparation for the movie coming out in December.

What I’m watching:

I saw Interstellar today in a full theater at 11 AM.  The movie lasts almost three hours which is a long time to sit right next to a stranger (the theater was almost full, so I had no choice) .  But it was a big movie with mind-bending ideas and big actors doing big stuff.  I liked it.  (My 16-year old son declared it the Best Movie Ever.)

On television I’m watching my usual mix of reality television:  The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Real Housewives of ________________ (whatever’s showing), and Jimmy Fallon at night.  Beverly Hills 90210 has been showing on Tuesdays and I have to admit that I’ve been really enjoying watching old episodes.  I’m a little worried about how much I like the hairstyles from the 90s and wonder sometimes if I just got stuck in the 90s in terms of my expectations for hairstyles.

What I’m listening to:

Taylor Swift’s new music, 1989.  I bought the CD for my daughter and got hooked on it.  I like the “bonus” tracks at the end where the talks about her songwriting process, giving us a peek at the beginning stages of three of the songs.

Where I’m driving:

Around in circles.  Half an hour north to pick up my son.  Half an hour south to pick up my girl.  Ten minutes here, ten minutes back to deliver a son to work.  Twenty minutes to church, twenty minutes back.  I have never driven around so much in my life.  At least gas prices have gone down and I’m “only” paying $3.25 as gallon.  Since my husband’s been out of town again (since Wednesday), I have spent more time than usual in the car, including a 7:15 AM departure each morning.  This is the single hardest thing for me because I work very late and getting less than six hours of sleep is among my Least Favorite Things.  (Ah, now there’s a post idea!)

The End.



The reason you should not go barefoot in my house

It almost looks like the police should investigate . . .

This is just the latest thing that has broken on our kitchen floor.

Twenty-three ounces of Frank’s Hot Sauce.

This happened at a most inconvenient time.  Is there a convenient time to break a glass bottle of hot sauce?

If you visit my house, I recommend you wear your shoes inside.

That is all.


I drove my husband to the church where he planned to meet his ride to the airport.

I went to two thrift stores to find snow pants for the high school play.

I worked for four hours (or so).

I picked up my son from high school.

I took an eight minute nap.

I stopped by the pet store and bought dog food, forty-four pounds of it.

I delivered my daughter to youth group at the church.

I went to Costco for provisions.

I beat two levels on Candy Crush while waiting for youth group to end.

I picked up my daughter.

We watched Survivor together.

I worked three and a half more hours.

And now, having absolutely nothing to talk about and being unable to stop yawning, I’m heading to bed.

Life goes on

My husband flew to Texas in October and spent several weeks taking care of his very sick mom.  Hospice nurses said she probably had two weeks to live, but she outlived that prediction, only to die three days after he returned home.  She died just two hours short of her eighty-third birthday.

She died from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  Cigarettes lose their glamour when you can’t breathe, despite the oxygen tube snaking into your nose.

I never lived near her, so we weren’t as close as we might have been had we lived in the same town.  She was an elegant and generous woman, tiny and always adorned with gold necklaces and rings.  She liked to take care of people and loved her kids and grandkids so much.

We will miss her.

My husband will fly back to Houston tomorrow and be there until Saturday.  In his absence, I resume the trick of delivering and picking up kids without forgetting anyone anywhere, all while working my job and figuring out what to cook for dinner.

And my dog would appreciate it if I would remember to buy her more dog food tomorrow.  And my son needs snow-pants by Friday for the school play.  And my daughter needs a birthday gift for her friend for the slumber party on Friday.

I better start a list.



A note before sleep

This photo has nothing to do with this post. But I like it anyway. I took it last week. IMG_1125


I am really sleepy.  Giant yawns, slow blinks, already regretting that I have to wake up in the morning way before 9 AM.

This day began with solving the problem of the dead van.  I telephoned AAA to reinstate our service so we could request a service call.  After the tow-truck was confirmed to be on the way, my husband went outside and discovered that the van had made a miraculously overnight recovery and started without hesitation.

So he drove it to the repair shop.  Supposedly, it will be ready to be picked up in the morning, which is why I have to get out of bed all too early.

Oh.  And did I mention that I had previously agreed to pick up the carpool kids today after school?  The problem is that our car is too small for five kids and the van was at the shop.  A church lady agreed to come to our rescue and drove me in her van to pick up the kids.  All’s well that ends well, as they say.  (Do they say?  I don’t know.)

(As it turned out, I never did find my old AAA card, but I did find seven lip glosses and/or lip balms in an unused purse.  I disapprove of my continuing quest for a good gloss/lipstick or balm.)

It’s always something, right?

This day was going relatively well and then when my husband left at 9:30 PM to pick up one of our kids from work, the van wouldn’t start.  While he was in  Texas, twice when I parked our van the tail-lights stayed on.  When I noticed that, I did a Google search–of course–to try to diagnose the problem.  The solution was beyond my limited mechanical skills, so then I fixed it by hopping into the van, driving around the circle of our neighborhood and then parking in the driveway again.  This worked twice.  The lights went out.

I don’t know why.  It was a miracle or a trick.  Something.

But tonight, it would not start and I imagine that’s because we didn’t notice the tail-lights staying on and the battery drained.  Seriously, I am so over car trouble.  And I let our AAA membership lapse so very long ago.

The whole thing is especially annoying because tomorrow I agreed to drive carpool–picking up five kids at school and delivering them home.  Our car is too small for this task, so I need the van.  (It’s not  “my week” but I traded with another mom.)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a vacation from the little problems that continually pop up in our lives?

And then late tonight, our dog started doing this thing where she gulps and acts frantic and runs to the backyard to eat leaves and drink water from the fountain and generally cause me to worry.  She has a very sensitive stomach but absolutely no sense, so she’s constantly stealing stuff from the counter and eating it.  I have no idea what she got into but it’s super annoying.

Fortunately, it’s time to sleep.  I just hope I don’t have any anxiety dreams like the terrible one where my teeth all fall out.  Wish me luck.


Scattered thoughts

The lead story on the news tonight was the weather because it rained.  Here in San Diego County, we need rain.  We long for rain.  We take pictures of rain.  We bring up rain in conversation.  “Did you see the rain?”  “Did you hear that rain last night?”  It hadn’t really rained for months.  And so, it’s news.  We’re so happy for the rain.


Last Friday, I went to see a movie during an empty pocket of time I had before it was time to pick up my son at his high school.  I saw “Fury” which lasted more than two hours, so by the time I got back to my car, I’d missed a call from my husband who was in Texas.  I called him back.

“Your high school has been on CNN for the past two hours,” he said.  And that’s how I found out about the school shooting in which 14-year old Jaylen Fryberg shot two male cousins and three female classmates, killing two of the girls and himself.

I sat in my car after I hung up the phone and looked online for more information.  Then I cried.

What is there even to say about a school shooting that hasn’t been said before?

I just can’t believe it happened in the school where I went to high school.


IMG_1106This past week, a college friend of mine happened to be in Southern California with her daughter.  We spent less than a day together, but fit in a couple of visits to the beach, lunch at the harbor and a lot of laughs.  I am so grateful that she took the time to drive down to my house to see me.

It’s weird to think that my friend and I have known each other since we were the age of her daughter . . . time is in such a hurry.  We met thirty years ago.  That’s just incomprehensible.


My husband was out of town for over two weeks, spending time with his mom who is in hospice care in Texas.  He’s extremely grateful he fly to Houston when he did because she was aware and conscious.  She is declining now and sooner rather than later, he’ll be traveling back to Texas for her funeral.  It’s all so sad.


This year’s Halloween was the first one in which I did not take a child trick-or-treating in almost twenty years.  My 12-year old decided to go trick-or-treating with a friend from church.  My 16-year old spent the holiday at a party with his girlfriend’s family and friends.  One of my oldest sons was at work while the other hibernated in his room with his computer.   (For the record, my daughter was dressed as a Cat and my son was “Gangsta Santa.”)

I worked an eight hour shift from 5 PM to 1 AM while bestowing snack-sized Snickers and Kit-Kats and M&Ms on the few trick-or-treaters who rang our bell.  I only opened the door five times.  Our street is very quiet.

I mentioned to my daughter that it was the first year in forever that I haven’t taken any kids trick-or-treating and she said, “Isn’t that good?” and I said, “It’s just sad because it’s the end of an era.”  And she sort of blinked at me.

So I burst into a rendition of “The Cat’s in the Cradle” and she said, “Mom!  Stop!”  She doesn’t get it, but that’s because she’s 12.

And my husband said that song won’t apply to me anyway because I’ve been here for everything.  But still.  Each wave of time breaks on the shore and I can’t stop it from returning to sea.  I find that absolutely lovely, the constant motion of time, the beauty of a new wave each moment, but alarming that it’s so impossible to hold on to this present moment, so bittersweet that nothing will ever be the same again.









Counting sleep

I took two naps this morning before 9:45 AM.

But at least I didn’t have to drive my husband to the airport for his 6:40 AM flight to Houston.  I was worried about falling asleep driving home.  So, there’s that.  Drowsy driving is no joke.

Writing in a blog after a few weeks of silence is a lot like answering a letter that’s been sitting on your desk for three months.  It’s just awkward.  (Do you remember writing letters?  I used to be such a letter-writing boss.)

My husband has gone to Texas because his mother is not expected to live more than a couple of weeks.  In the past year, four people he was related to–by blood or by heart–have died.  It’s tough to be the one who feels helpless and a little outside of the circle of grief.  (But then I feel guilt because none of this is about me at all.)  I remember when my dad was dying that I felt completely encircled by the sorrow, like being stranded on a tiny rocky island in a vast sea of sadness.  My husband was by my side during that terrible time but he wasn’t on the island with me.  You may or may not understand this, depending on whether you’ve been there yourself.

Anyway, so while he’s gone, I’m here, carrying on.  I work very late and usually drop into bed at 1:30 AM.

I drive my son to school at 7:15 AM, then drive another to work at 9:00 AM.  My daughter has rides to and from school in a carpool–and I just finished my two weeks of driving the carpool, so I’m off the hook for the next two weeks.  But I still have to pick-up the boys from school and work.  And in the middle of that, I work.  And then do laundry and dishes and cooking and all the rest to keep the gears turning here at home.

Our weather has finally cooled down from the ghastly summer-like temperatures.  It’s so nice to feel a cool evening breeze and to be enveloped by fog in the morning.  Today I actually wore jeans for the first time since April or May.  At some point, I imagine I’ll put on socks and actual shoes as well.  But let’s not rush into these things.

Sometimes while I’m driving around, I think of things I could write about in this space.  And I’m always 100% sure that I won’t forget my brilliant ideas.  But I forget them because my brain is like a pinball game, the ideas ricocheting around before disappearing, despite my frantic effort to flap those flippers.

Raise your hand if you know that feeling.

Now, I have to get some sleep so I can drive my boy to high school in 5 hours and fifty minutes.

But who’s counting?  I am asleep!  Even now!

What do fruit flies, novels and houseguests have in common? (Answer: This blog post)

I actually did a search on Google for blog topics.  That’s what it’s come to.  I have nothing to say.

Time to wrap this blog in bubble-wrap and old newspaper and shove it into a box. Seal it up tight with packing tape.  Put it in a corner of the garage.

Well.  Not really.  This blog isn’t going anywhere.  But it’s sitting in a rocking chair with an afghan over its lap.  At least that’s how it seems some days.

So since you’re here, let me just bring you up to date.

  • All four of my kids have a cold, but they have spaced it out, so one is at the lingering-cough stage, one is at the sneezing stage, one has an earache and one is dizzy and worn out.  My husband and I are–so far–avoiding this one.
  • I am obsessed with reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year.  It’s a giant book.  (And best of all, I bought it at a thrift store for $3.99.)  I am thinking of sneaking it into the bathroom when I got upstairs in a few minutes–even though it’s 12:30 AM.  Why do I have to do stuff like work and cook and clean and sleep when there is a good book to read?  As my 12-year old would say, “That’s not fair!”  (I swear, I hear her say that phrase more than any other.)
  • I finally hung a couple of oval mirrors in the bathroom.  The giant mirror fell almost two months ago.  Since then, we’ve been getting ready by stooping to look into small mirrors propped by the sinks.  Very unsatisfactory, but for some reason I am slow to solve these petty problems.  I plan to create an entire “mirror wall” in that bathroom.  Check back in a year and we’ll see how much progress I’ve made.  One must not rush into these things.
  • We survived the heat wave.  This morning, while driving my son to his college class, I noted that the temperature was 66 degrees.  It was downright chilly.  I loved it.  (The warmth returned all too soon–it was 80 in the house by the afternoon.  Boo.)
  • I went with a friend to hear Benny Hester and Kelly Willard in concert last week.  It was the first time I’d ever seen either one in concert and it was simultaneously disappointing and super fun–it was disappointing because Kelly Willard did not sing ANY of the songs she’s written and recorded over the years.  (I don’t understand this.)  But it was super fun because Benny Hester and his band were excellent.  I felt like I had gone back in time to the eighties when his music was on Christian radio.  (Is it still?  I don’t know.  I barely ever listen to Christian radio.)  Anyway, time warp for sure, sitting in that “Christian coffee house,” listening to that music.
  • Tomorrow a friend of ours will arrive for a two-night stay at our house.   He’s just stopping here on his way overseas.  His pit-stop means I will spend my morning Swiffering up dog hair and gathering dishes and cups from every room and returning items to their rightful homes (for instance, that white board needs to be relocated to my daughter’s room.  And so on and so forth.)

And finally, you should know that the fruit fly population has dwindled to almost nothing.  An occasional fruit fly hovers in my line of sight every once in awhile.  I’ve put the brand new bananas I bought into a Zip-loc bag to prevent this whole situation from flaring up again.   I randomly clap flies out of their flight paths from time to time.

Just for kicks, here are the topics HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator came up with for me using the nouns “fruit flies,” “novels” and “houseguests.”

1)  The history of fruit flies

2)  10 Quick Tips About novels

3)  The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on houseguests

4)  7 Things About fruit flies Your Boss Wants to Know

5)  14 Common Misconceptions About novels




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